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Science is horrifying

Posted November 23, 2016 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

I'm not sure how I'll use the terriftying details of this New Scientist story about the "dinosaur-killing asteroid that turned planet Earth inside-out", but I suspect they'll turn up somewhere in The Cruel Stars.

How could they not?

By analysing the depths and compositions of the rocks, the team reconstructed a timeline for the impact.

First the asteroid blasted through almost all of Earth’s crust, propelling rocks from the bottom of the crust and lifting them 25 kilometres within 10 minutes. At the rim of the newly forming crater, a mountain range higher than the Himalayas lifted and collapsed within three minutes, leaving a halo of basement rock in a geological feature called a peak ring. At the centre, a massive peak of rock splashed upward, fluid-like, before collapsing again – much like the splash of a sugar cube in a cup of hot tea.

About 10 minutes after that, the rocks stabilised and stopped flowing like a liquid. The titanic forces of impact sent shockwaves through the planet and caused earthquakes that would top the 10-point Richter scale, rattling the ground with greater force than any existing fault is capable of producing.

13 Responses to ‘Science is horrifying’

jl is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23, 2016
Harrowing reading. Imagine aliens or future humans doing it with deliberation while parked in orbit.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted November 23, 2016
Check out "The Forge of God" by Greg Bear, which concludes with exactly that. There are some pretty harrowing scenes from the PoV of some of the people caught in the middle of it.

(The book as a whole is less catastrophically actiony, but the long slow buildup is worth reading in full because it makes the ending that much more effective.)

insomniac would have you know...

Posted November 23, 2016
Sounds like something Havock or his descendants would be up for

HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted November 24, 2016

HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted November 24, 2016
You know that anything worth doing is best done FROM FKN ORBIT!!

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pitpat asserts...

Posted November 23, 2016
Hey John,
Thanks for the link. As a bit of a rock doctor on the other side of the world I'm looking at rocks of similar age which have textural features that are similar but are related to explosive events derived from magmatic or batholithic sources. I would expect some vigorous discussion in the next couple of years. They might even get some more funding to drill another hole ( the hole they drilled probably cost between 1 and 10 mill) but more than likely they won't.

Either way it is a nice story in these times of post-modern science. As for big geology events it probably isn't in the top ten. If you drive from Brisbane through to the Whitsundays you are driving - in large part- across volcanic terranes- extruded during the late Jurassic/early Cretaceous that have volumes measured in millions of cubic kilometres. Probably not a great place for a beach house.

Any hoo Thanks for all your published work so far this year, have bought it all and loved it all even if I disagreed with some of it.

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Spanner puts forth...

Posted November 23, 2016
Was there an earth shattering kaboom?

(Marvin the Martian reference)

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted November 25, 2016
Oh goodie! My Illidium Q36 explosive space modulator

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MordWa reckons...

Posted November 23, 2016
*puts on Sid James leery voice*

"-That's still less 'ard than I'd hit Barbara Windsor give a tuppence chance. Amiright? Hehehurh"

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John Petherick asserts...

Posted November 24, 2016
Sounds like home!

I live in Sudbury, Ontario. My house is just south of the southern rim of the Sudbury Basin and I work up on the northwest edge of the rim, so I drive across the basin twice a day. The basin, however, has been deformed by tectonic forces so it is now an elliptical / ovoid shape rather than circular, further complicated by a second, smaller impact crater.

Sudbury breccia has different colours but looks very similar to the core in the article. Mind you, the drill only went down 1335 metres, barely scratching the surface (mind you, it was underwater, too).

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted November 24, 2016
Sudbury! Stopped in there whilst on a ratsacking adventure through North America a few lifetimes ago.
Was heading west to east and had stopped at Sault St Marie then Sudbury before hitting Toronto.
Liked it. Had a fun pub, Peddlars? Was good.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted November 24, 2016
That neatly describes Greybeard getting into a bath

Gutz has opinions thus...

Posted November 26, 2016
That made the ginger beer i was drinking shoot out my nose!

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